Antonov An-124 transfers MC-21 fuselage to the test site


Moskow - Irkut has transported an MC-21-300 fuselage to Zhukovsky airfield in Moscow, where it will undergo endurance testing. The fuselage was transported to Zhukovsky with a large freighter, the Antonov An-124, generating this impressive image.

Irkut will work with the Central Institute of Aero-Hydrodynamics to expose the fuselage to the static pressure testing, which measures the number of cycles the aircraft can withstand. Each cycle represents a takeoff and a landing that each time the airplane pressurizes and depressurizes.

The test will perform 180,000 cycles of use of the fuselage, much higher than the maximum operation cycle expected (70,000 cycles) throughout its service life.

This is the third MC-21 fuselage produced by Irkut. The other two are already in use with test planes. The company is working on setting up a fourth aircraft, which will also be part of the test fleet.

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The MC-21-300 has a transportation capacity of up to 211 passengers, in a two-class configuration. Irkut promises up to a 15% lower operating cost compared to current competitors such as Boeing 737 MAX 9 and Airbus A321neo thanks to its new design and current technologies in materials incorporated in the aircraft.

The development of the MC-21 began in 2008. The first flight had been scheduled for 2016, but due to some delays in the design process, it was postponed to 2017. Irkut nevertheless progresses well with the tests, benefiting from the previous experiences obtained by Russian engineers from Sukhoi while developing the Sukhoi SSJ100, which is also a part of United Aircraft Corporation together with Irkut, Ilyushin, and Yakovlev.

To date, the MC-21 has accumulated more than 185 orders with options for further 100 copies mainly from Russian airline operators such as Aeroflot. The MC-21 certification had been scheduled for 2018 in Russia, and for EASA certification in 2019.

But it was delayed with the debut of the first variant of the device, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines. It is now scheduled for 2020.